INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—Indianapolis opened the season with a precarious chase of perfection through the air. They were finally grounded—and on Sunday night, Joseph Addai took off running.
Against a strong Philadelphia defense, the running back slashed and powered his way to a career-high 171 yards, setting a franchise rookie record by scoring four touchdowns in the Colts’ 45-21 rout of the Eagles.
For Indianapolis (10-1), it was a refreshing change from Peyton Manning’s weekly rescue missions. The Colts were the last unbeaten team before a loss to the Cowboys last week, and their big rebound means a chance to clinch a fourth straight AFC South title with a win at Tennessee next week.
Against the Eagles, two-time MVP Peyton Manning was mostly a spectator. Instead, Addai was the one making offense look easy, with his slashing runs, quick burst and overpowering style eating up chunks of yardage on nearly all 24 carries.
To Addai, it wasn’t enough.
“A lot of running backs come in and do good the first year and after that they go into the tank,” he said. “I’ve got to become more consistent.”
Addai, who entered this week as the top rookie runner in the NFL, had 91 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the first half to tie a Colts’ rookie record for scores, first set by Billy Vessels in 1956.
He also caught two passes for 37 yards, giving him 208 total yards.
Addai’s four touchdowns tied an NFL rookie record for rushing scores in one game; he shares that mark with eight other players. He also broke a franchise record for points scored by a rookie in a game—the previous high was 18, reached in 1956, 1994 and 1996.
“I think it started way back in camp, just learning little key things,” Addai said. “That’s what you have to do as a rookie is work on the small things and you’ll do pretty good.”
Manning finished 14-of-20 for 183 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but broke yet another record.
His first completion, a 17-yarder to Reggie Wayne on the game’s opening series, made Manning the fastest player in league history to 3,000. The two-time MVP achieved the feat in 139 games, breaking a record previously shared by Dan Marino and Drew Bledsoe of 146, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
He finished the night with 3,013 completions but was more content with the win.
“Guys were disappointed after last week,” Manning said. “You always want to get a win and get that taste out of your mouth.”
In contrast, the Eagles (5-6) did little right.
From a poor early decision to challenge Wayne’s one-handed, 38-yard catch to a botched double-pass that was picked off by Nick Harper to David Akers’ missed 36-yard field goal, the game was filled with mistakes—and few could be attributed to the absence of quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is out for the season with a torn knee ligament.
The first time Philadelphia did score, on L.J. Smith’s 1-yard TD catch with 1:19 left in the half, it left Manning too much time and he closed out the first half by setting up Adam Vinatieri’s 44-yard field goal.
“We just didn’t make the plays out there,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “I’m going to step up and tell you it starts with us, as coaches, and I’ve got to continue to take a close look at that and make sure we’re putting the right guys in the right positions.”
Jeff Garcia, McNabb’s replacement, was 19-of-23 for 140 yards with two TDs before leaving with a strained right forearm. Brian Westbrook rushed 20 times for 124 yards, becoming the first Eagle since Wilbert Montgomery in 1981 with three straight 100-yard games, it was little solace.
“It’s a situation where we’ve got to be methodical with the football,” Garcia said. “In a situation like that, we just didn’t do enough.”
Manning got Indy started quickly. He led Indy on a 79-yard opening drive, capped by Addai’s 15-yard run to make it 7-0.
Addai followed that with a 10-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to give Indy a 14-0 lead, then extended the margin to 21-0 when he made two terrific cuts on another 15-yard run.
Philadelphia finally answered on Smith’s TD catch, but the Colts got a 44-yard field goal as time expired to make it 24-7 at the half.
The second half wasn’t much better for Philly. Indianapolis forced a quick punt and Manning led the Colts on an 89-yard drive, capped by a 15-yard TD pass to Reggie Wayne for a 31-7 lead.
Addai sealed it with a 4-yard TD run late that gave Indy a 38-21 lead.
“We rode the hot hand a little bit,” Tony Dungy said. “We actually ran the ball this game probably more than we have in a while, so people got a chance to see what he can do. … He knows he’s a good back, and he just wants to come in here and fit in, and he’s done that very well.”
Tight end Dallas Clark limped into the locker room just before halftime with a sprained right knee. The Colts gave no further update. … Philadelphia defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was inactive after missing the team flight Saturday. … The Eagles have not won in Indianapolis since December 1993. … Colts right tackle Ryan Diem left the game during the first quarter with a back muscle injury and did not return. … McNabb is scheduled to have surgery Tuesday in Alabama.